Verstappen believes P6 start for F1 US GP “makes Sunday a bit more fun”

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Max Verstappen recorded one of his lowest qualifying positions this season on Friday as he only managed 6th on the grid for the United States Grand Prix.

Photo credit: Red Bull Content Pool

The three-time defending World Champion went into qualifying as favourite for pole as he logged the fastest time in FP1, but he came up short when it mattered on a day when Ferrari, Mercedes and McLaren all had excellent pace to properly challenge him. A lot of bumps have hindered the way the RB19 can be run at COTA.

The Dutchman was P2 in Q2, a mere 0.004s slower than Charles Leclerc. After going 3rd fastest on the first runs in Q3, a messy final lap for Verstappen completely spoiled his day.

A lock-up into turn 1 immediately put him on the back foot as he failed to do a personal best in sector 1. Although he set a personal best in the middle one, he went all-in for glory at turn 19 to take pole position and exceeded track limits.

Verstappen’s lap was 0.005s quicker than Leclerc’s, but the reality was he would not have beaten it had he not run off the circuit.

The 26-year-old explained it from his point of view.

“I mean I knew in [Turn] 19 it was going to be a close call. I had a little mistake in Turn 1, I had to really push for it in the rest of the lap.

Honestly, I didn’t even steer, I just tried to maximise the corner and I misjudged it by a little bit, it’s very fine margins when you are pushing to the limit. It makes the Sunday a bit more fun.”

As has been proven throughout the course of the 2023 season, the Red Bull tends to be stronger in race trim than over a single lap.

Verstappen is confident of making his way through the pack if the pace is there to do it.

“I mean it’s probably not ideal, but I’ve also started further back and it’s all about if you have good pace, you will pass, you will move forward. We want to win so of course today was not ideal but it’s still a long race, a lot of things we can do better and have a bit of fun out there as well.”